Worm Pill Could Ease Autoimmune Disease Symptoms

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By Usha Hari | August 21, 2014 3:05 PM EST

Experts believe that the peptides in parasitic worms could lead them to a probable treatment for various autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis. These diseases occur when the body's immune system start working against its own cells and tissues, often causing damage.

The exact cause of autoimmune diseases, which have become rampant in many parts of the world especially developed countries, is not yet fully known. However, this research study could identify specific peptides from parasitic worms that suppress the body's immune response, which may help them to invent a peptide drug to relieve symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

"There are more than eighty autoimmune diseases, ranging in severity from mild to life threatening in some cases. While some affect mainly one area or organ, others can affect many parts of the body," said lead researcher Professor Ray Norton from Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS)  in the press release.

The immune system of the human body has to deal with fewer infections than the previous generations in the Western societies. Many believe that there is a relation between the rise in autoimmune diseases and an increased focus on cleanliness. It could be true considering the fact that though worm infections are nonexistent in developed countries there has been a high prevalence of autoimmune diseases in Western societies like Australia where one in every 20 persons suffer from autoimmune diseases. 

The study conducted by Monash University published by the FASEB Journal has identified specific peptides from parasitic worms that suppress the body's immune response, which may help in the invention of drugs against different types of autoimmune diseases. 

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